Partner spotlight: Seton Education Partners and understanding blended learning

Accelerate Great Schools has invested more than $2 million to transform St. Cecilia and St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila schools into blended learning academies through a strategic partnership with Seton Education Partners. We asked Emily Gilbride, Senior Manager for Seton’s Blended Learning Network about blended learning is helping students succeed in Cincinnati.

1)     What do you find to be unique about Cincinnati’s education landscape?

I am constantly amazed at the potential of students in our great city. Every student has the desire to achieve success in their education and Cincinnati has a wide variety of schools to serve children of varying needs but some lack the resources needed to help them reach their full potential. That’s why this partnership between Accelerate Great Schools and Seton Education Partners is so important – we’re working together with the Archdiocese to build upon the already great educational foundation these students are receiving. This collaboration will benefit the students now and into the future.

2)     What is the Seton Blended Learning Network?

The Seton Blended Learning Network is a network of thirteen Catholic schools driven by results, smart collaboration, and character formation. Seton currently serves over 3,400 students, 98 percent of whom are minorities and over two-thirds of whom qualify for the federal meals program. Seton provides partner schools with the know-how, training, and fundraising required to convert traditional classrooms to blended learning. The goal is to substantially improve the academic performance and reduce per-pupil operating costs of urban Catholic schools. And it is working.

3)     What is blended learning?

Blended learning combines a traditional, bricks-and-mortar educational experience with online learning. Blended learning is not just about increasing access to computers and tablets; blended learning involves leveraging technology in a strategic way to provide students a more personalized learning experience. This includes small group instruction where and when each student learns best, as well as at the pace at which they advance. For instance, if a child is performing below standards, they can receive remediation, but if they are ahead, they can receive acceleration. This video of Seton’s first blended learning school showcases the rotational blended learning model.

4)     Tell us more about Seton Education Partners. How much does it charge for its services?

Seton and Accelerate Great Schools share the belief that all kids deserve a great education. Seton is a nonprofit 501c3 organization founded to preserve disappearing urban Catholic Schools, many of which serve low-income students. We revitalize our partner schools, implement a more sustainable model and equip them with the tools to succeed. Thanks to the generosity of donors, Seton does not charge Archdiocesan offices or individual Catholic schools to join the Seton Blended Learning Network.

5)     What does Seton’s blended learning model look like?

Seton works with each partner school to customize a learning model that meets the needs of each school’s staff and student population. This autonomy at the school level empowers principals and teachers to personalize their approach to meet the needs of their individual school population. Most often, Seton implements a classroom rotation model that uses a mixture of flexible software and data-driven, small-group instruction. The software, procedures, training, and “culture” of the model differ by grade level (i.e. K-2, 3-5, 6-8). We’re excited to be working with four local principals identify the model that best meets the needs of their students.

6)     How will Accelerate Great Schools’ investment help St. Cecilia and St. Francis de Sales?

Accelerate Great Schools’ $1.3 million investment in St. Cecilia and St. Francis de Sales will assist the schools with introducing the blended learning model, making necessary infrastructure updates (while remaining at their same locations) to allow more technology in the classroom and increasing student enrollment. Currently, St. Cecilia serves 231 students, and St. Frances de Sales serves 222 students. We project enrollment at each school will grow to 280 students each in three years.

7)     Does this program have an impact on enrollment?

Yes! Many parents are excited when their schools partner with Seton because they’re able to leverage the combination of personalized learning and small-group instruction, and they’ve seen the academic results. They choose to enroll their children in Seton-partnered schools, which drives enrollment. Figures differ by location, but Seton schools have collectively increased enrollment by 28 percent from pre-Seton totals. I can say firsthand that after Accelerate Great Schools announced its investment in the transformation of St. Cecilia and St. Francis de Sales, we received phone calls from enthusiastic parents who wanted to enroll their children at both schools and at St. Joseph.

8)     How does Seton’s blended learning model impact school culture?

Blended learning is not a silver bullet but rather a flexible and effective tool that can be used by a great leader and reflective teachers to achieve a strong school culture and high performing academic results. Blended learning increases student/teacher interaction, enables targeted small group instruction, and provides an opportunity to celebrate good character. As a result, Seton works with each school’s leadership team to inject best practices from high performing, “no excuses” urban schools across the nation in order to help build a culture in which students develop the knowledge, skills, and character necessary to earn a college degree and pursue lives of value, faith, and integrity.

 

 Emily Gilbride is the Senior Manager for Seton's Blended Learning work in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In this role, she oversees local expansion, coaching, and professional development for all site managers, teachers, and principals in Southwest Ohio. She has lived in Cincinnati for over eight years and is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for children in the region and throughout the country. Prior to joining Seton, Emily was a Teach for America corps member in Southwest Ohio, where she taught middle school math and served as a content leader for fellow secondary math educators. While teaching, she successfully led the campaign for a Cincinnati School Board member and worked as a School Operations Manager for Teach for America’s Atlanta Institute. Emily earned a bachelors of arts degree in philosophy, politics, and public and political science, with honors, from Xavier University.

Emily Gilbride is the Senior Manager for Seton's Blended Learning work in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In this role, she oversees local expansion, coaching, and professional development for all site managers, teachers, and principals in Southwest Ohio. She has lived in Cincinnati for over eight years and is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for children in the region and throughout the country. Prior to joining Seton, Emily was a Teach for America corps member in Southwest Ohio, where she taught middle school math and served as a content leader for fellow secondary math educators. While teaching, she successfully led the campaign for a Cincinnati School Board member and worked as a School Operations Manager for Teach for America’s Atlanta Institute. Emily earned a bachelors of arts degree in philosophy, politics, and public and political science, with honors, from Xavier University.

Cincinnati Public Schools' Magnet Elementary School Lottery is Underway

 

If you are planning on enrolling your child into one of Cincinnati Public Schools’ magnet elementary schools, get your application in during round two of the lottery! Round two is underway for applications not submitted in round one. Deadline is February 16, 2018. https://www.cps-k12.org/enroll/magnet-enrollment …  

Cincinnati Public Schools uses an online lottery application process for applications to magnet elementary schools. CPS' magnet elementary schools offer a variety of interesting content focuses and teaching styles to give parents and students educational choices while appealing to students’ different interests and learning preferences.

Parents choose to send their children to magnet elementary schools by applying during the district's annual application process in the prior school year.

How can you tell if your child is attending a great school?

1. Get the facts. 

  • Go to the Ohio Reportcard to look at the school's most recent report card from the Ohio Department of Education. 
  • Start by looking at achievement. How many students are on grade level?
  • Look at the progress measure. Do students gain at least one full year of learning during the school year?

2. See what others are saying about your school.

  • Check out GreatSchools.org
  • Look at your school's Facebook page.
  • What do people say on your school's Twitter feed?

3. Look beyond the numbers.

  • Visit your school. Do you feel welcome in the school?
  • Ask the principal and teachers what they like best about the school.
  • Ask where students go when they leave this school.
  • Do you see other parents at the school? What do they think about the school?
  • Observe teachers and students in action. Would your child be excited about learning in the school?

 

Spencer School Investment

Accelerate Great Schools is proud to support the Spencer Center for Gifted and Exceptional Students. The new Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) citywide magnet school opened in August 2017. 

Students will blossom in this flexible, yet rigorous, environment at the new Spencer Center, located in Walnut Hills. The school will prepare students for the academic rigor of CPS' Special College Preparatory Program (SCPP) at Dater and Walnut Hills high schools, or for academic success at any secondary school. It also offers students a highly personalized learning experience with opportunities to travel abroad.

Gifted and Exceptional Students Benefit From:

  • A rigorous curriculum that connects the classroom to actual workplaces – providing students with opportunities for internships and career-based experiences that will prepare them for the real world.

  • Opportunities to study through exciting field experiences in Cincinnati, and, eventually, abroad.

  • A robust offering of extracurricular activities and sports.

  • Latin classes to prepare students for the Special College Preparatory Program (SCPP) offered at Dater and Walnut Hills high schools.

  • Unique electives, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Robotics, Foreign Language and Mindfulness.

  • Project-based, hands-on learning incorporating problem-solving and design thinking to bring academic concepts to life.

Students currently attending Cincinnati Public Schools, as well as those in charter or non-public schools located within the district, are eligible to apply as long as they meet eligibility requirements found here.

 

Accelerate Welcomes New Public Ally

 Public Ally Tanisha Chapman participates with Accelerate Great Schools at a Greater Cincinnati Urban League Fall 2016 event. 

Public Ally Tanisha Chapman participates with Accelerate Great Schools at a Greater Cincinnati Urban League Fall 2016 event. 

Tanisha Chapman, a 2016 Public Ally, has joined Accelerate Great Schools (Accelerate) as a Community Engagement Specialist. Her first day was Wednesday, September 21st. Tanisha studied Early Childhood Education at Cincinnati State. Her passions are choreographing liturgical dance and completing D.I.Y projects at home. Tanisha hopes to learn more about networking and building strong collaborations with community based organizations in addition to a developing her public speaking skills through her time here at Accelerate.  Ms. Chapman is happily married and has 2 children.  She enjoys horseback riding, soccer games and spending time with her family. Ms. Chapman and her family live on Cincinnati’s West Side

Our first investments

Grants totaling $1.42 million will expand existing, successful efforts in Cincinnati Public Schools and Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools

 Accelerate Great Schools, a nonprofit fund founded in 2015 to ensure every student in every neighborhood of Cincinnati has access to a great school, has announced its first two grants. Accelerate Great Schools is investing up to $128,000 to support  Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) work with TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) on attracting, supporting and developing school principals and assistant principals, and Seton Education Partners will receive up to $1.3 million to transform two additional Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools into blended learning academies.

“Both of these grants align with our investment focus, which is to help create pipelines for exceptional talent and to kick start great schools,” said Patrick Herrel, CEO of Accelerate Great Schools. “We’re proud to help provide fuel to the great progress CPS and the Archdiocese are making toward our shared goal of academic excellence.”

TNTP began working with CPS last year to improve the district’s teacher recruitment efforts and support, which resulted in the doubling of CPS’s teacher applicant pool. The new grant will evaluate the district’s approach to recruiting, hiring and supporting school principals, the first step in developing a robust leadership development effort for school leaders.

“Our relationship with TNTP already has been successful, and expanding the partnership to enhance our principal pipeline will help us advance further,” said Mary Ronan, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. “We know that leadership is an important component of school success, with students being the ultimate beneficiaries. We are extremely appreciative of the support of Accelerate Great Schools in expanding our capacity to attract and develop great school leaders.”

The $1.3 million Accelerate Great Schools grant to Seton Education Partners will allow Seton to transform and introduce a blended learning model at two additional Archdiocese of Cincinnati schools, St. Francis de Sales in Walnut Hills and St. Cecilia in Oakley. This model – which uses technology, creative problem-solving and nationwide collaboration to improve the academic performance of students and reduce school operating costs – has already been implemented by Seton at the Archdiocese’s St. Joseph Catholic School in the West End. During the 2014-15 school year, 80 percent of St. Joseph’s students made one or more years of progress in math while 74 percent made one or more years of progress in reading on the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) test, outpacing the national average by 30% and 24% respectively.

“We have already seen great results at St. Joseph using Seton’s blended learning model, and we appreciate Accelerate Great Schools helping us expand the relationship to two additional schools,” said Susan Gibbons, interim superintendent of Catholic Schools. “The bottom line is more kids will benefit. That’s why we’re all here.”

“Accelerate Great School’s only objective is student success,” said Herrel. “We will invest in programs that foster that success. TNTP and Seton have proven track records, both here and across the United States, and CPS and the Archdiocese showed great leadership in engaging them. We’re glad to help build on these successful relationships.” 

Accelerate Great Schools continues to accept grant applications from individuals and organizations with a desire to positively influence K-12 education in Cincinnati. More information is available here.